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The methodologies we’ve described so far ensure that teams are aligned and that user needs are at the center of the process, but what defines a “good” user experience? What makes a product or design truly great?

Numerous attempts to answer this question help make design critique less subjective. Designer and information architect Peter Morville’s UX honeycomb, pictured to the right, is one example of a framework for understanding the many facets of a positive user experience:

  • Useful: fulfills a user’s needs
  • Usable: easy to use and understand
  • Desirable: visually attractive and succinct
  • Findable: easy to navigate and find information
  • Accessible: users with disabilities can use the product
  • Credible: the product, company, and services are trustworthy
  • Valuable: delivers business value

Google takes a condensed approach to defining the characteristics of a good user experience:

  • Usable: easy to find and use functionality
  • Equitable: benefiting individuals across skills and backgrounds
  • Enjoyable: pleasing to use beyond basic functionality
  • Useful: solves a user need

The distinction between descriptors like these is helpful when assessing a product or design. For example, a usable and desirable design may not be useful or answer a user’s needs. A visually desirable design may not be usable or findable if it obscures important information or functionality. Any product that doesn’t consider accessibility and equity may (whether intentionally or not) exclude a portion of the population who would otherwise find it useful.

For more resources on accessibility and designing for equity and inclusion, we recommend:

Instructions

Think about answers to the following questions to check your understanding of what defines a good user experience.

What is the difference between “usable” and “useful”?

Check Answer A "usable" design is easy to use and understand, while a "useful" product meets a user need.

You’re browsing a website that uses a pleasing color palette and typography, but you’re struggling to find the information you need. Where does this website fall short?

Check Answer The design is not "findable" or "usable" according to Peter Morville, or "usable" according to Google.

Choose a website or app you visit frequently. Go through the website and note elements that you think create good or bad UX, using the vocabulary from this exercise.

Check Answer As an example, let's take a look at the Codecademy catalog page.
A screenshot of the Codecademy catalog page
Good UX:
  • Findable: We like that the page offers a number of different ways to find information or decide what to do next. Users can filter by the coding language they want to learn, see what courses and paths are popular, or even take a quiz to get recommendations.
  • Desirable & Enjoyable: The illustrations and visual styling on the page complement the content. The page feels fun and welcoming but still credible.
  • Accessible: W3C offers a list of accessibility evaluation tools. We used the Accessibility Insights for Web Chrome plugin to run a "Fast Pass" accessibility check (used to identify common, high-impact accessibility issues) which the page passed.

Areas for Improvement:

  • Credible: If a user who landed on this page didn't know about Codecademy, it might be difficult to get a sense for the credibility of the website. This could be improved by adding a link to Learner Stories.

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